In the wake of the latest case of Mad Cow Disease found in California, a New Zealand Government spokesperson has described the decision by Indonesia, and some companies in South Korea, to ban beef imports from the US, as an extreme over-reaction.
Mad cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, is a fatal brain disease affecting cattle and can, under certain circumstances, be transmitted to humans.
Principal Advisor of International Standards for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Stuart MacDiarmid, told Country99 TV the reaction was well over the top.
“Absolutely…extreme, extreme over-reaction. One might be tempted to use phrases like medieval superstition or something.”
Dr MacDiarmid said this most recent case makes no difference to the BSE risk, either in New Zealand or Globally, as the risk has been dropping dramatically year by year.
He said BSE is not present in meat, but solely in the central nervous tissue, and according to the World Organization for Animal Health, de-boned meat and milk from an animal with BSE is safe to eat.
“It is not meat that infected humans, humans were infected with BSE through a product called mechanically recovered meat which is sort of like a past that was formally extracted under high pressure from the bones of cattle and in producing this stuff it squeezed out traces of central nervous tissue.”
Dr Macdiarmid said mechanically recovered meat was used in burgers across the UK in the nineties, and that is how humans contracted the disease.
The resulting slaughter of 4.4 million animals was not an over-reaction, because we didn’t know as much about the disease then.